I am sitting on a rock. My name is Adam and I am still sitting on this same rock I have been for the last hour. I have been doing this for the past three years and I have prepared for everything I could think of except for boredom. At any given time I have a multi-tool, a 20ft braded cord bracelet, fire starter bracelet, hooded sweatshirt, packets of honey and this notebook. I probably should add a crossword puzzle or word search or something to the list. I’ll need more pockets.
The waves were soothing at first but now they feel like they’re mocking me. They’re free to travel all around the world while I’m just sitting here on this rock in the shadow of a black cliff. Then again they are crashing into my rock here so I guess I win. Yeah, I might be losing it. I am getting pissed at waves. What does that say about me that I am pissed at what Laffy Taffy has assured me to be “the most friendly version of water.” I am really just frustrated because I have no idea what day or time or year it is.
Movies and science fiction in general have lied to all of us. You’re supposed to be able to grab a newspaper out of a conveniently placed garbage can or front porch, look at the date, realize it is either historically important or the day before an important event and you’re off on an adventure! The fact of the matter is that sometimes, MOST of the time, when you’re pulled through all of time and space you end up sitting on a rock with your back to a cliff and getting pissed at water. My name is Adam, I am sitting on a rock and for a lack of a cooler title I am a time traveler.
The phenomenon of time travel is more common than you’d think. Assuming you never thought that it happened at all. I’ve only met one other person that could and it was only the one time. I had been drinking and couldn’t stop laughing at a man that I kept calling the “Monopoly Man.” That still confuses me because he was wearing a blazer. Not a top hat, not a tux or a monocle. Just a dark grey blazer. I might be a jackass when I’m drunk. I’ll have to run a few experiments to confirm that theory when I get back home. The Monopoly Man never gave me his name, he might have tried but I’d get why he’d want to back away from some drunk fool. I’ll never forget what he said to me though… is what I’ll tell people when I remember what he said exactly. Our conversation didn’t last long and it was mostly one sided. What I remember is that he told me that he was thrilled to meet someone else like him. He offered me some pseudo-science explanation as to how it all works about brain chemistry and the matrix layout of the neural pathways creating an “isolated gravity field that warped space-time around us.” True or not it’s more of an explanation than I was able to come up with. It did make sense though at the time. Probably how he even knew I could do this too is from the disorienting sensation I felt and I guess he did too when he was within an arm’s reach. The same dizzying feeling you get when you start to get pulled. I think back and wonder if I hadn’t been as wasted if I’d have more answers or at least someone to talk to about all this. The alcohol was probably what made it so we could have talked at all, killing brain cells and numbing the neural-matrix-whatever. All I know is that after a few minutes he was gone. No cool special effects, no smoke or shimmering lights, just gone. I’d never seen it happen before and it was pretty underwhelming. Nobody noticed though, they never do. A funny thing about people is that if they see something they don’t understand they can rationalize it away. Like a guy just disappearing in the middle of a semi crowded bar. He most likely walked out of view or someone stood in front of them or they really need to cut back on the drinks. I remember being nervous to the point of sickness thinking about how I’d explain what happened if I went away in front of someone. Three years later and it’s almost never come up. Just in case though I tell people that I’m prone to seizures. I’m never specific about what kind because the variety can be used to explain anything off when I comeback. If I’m fortunate enough to be rubber banded back to where I left.
I wish I could say it was terrifying, but really the first time was more confusing than anything. It was the fall of 2012 and I was going nowhere in my mindless office job. I was out on lunch at a local fast food sub place when I started to feel sick. My mind was spinning like an unbalanced dryer load. I tried to put my head down but it never seemed to hit the table. I tried so hard to lower my head but the distance between my mind and the cool table top kept getting further apart. I stood up and followed the footsteps I’d invisibly left to the men’s room countless times from unsettling chipotle seasoned lunches past. I didn’t make it there. I fell to the tile floor but somehow missed and landed on a dry dirt path. I wish I could say “the air was fresh and crisp and a breeze danced across the tall grass…” but I was too distracted decorating the path with my recently enjoyed lunch. I had just enough energy left to roll from my side where I had, I guess, landed onto my back. Closing my eyes made everything feel worse I was still dizzy and now felt dehydrated. I was eventually able to sit up and finding a tree in the distance gave me something to focus on. I couldn’t say how long I sat there but it was long enough for the dizzy feeling to go away. I got up and started walking. What. The Fuck. Happened? Its funny now how long it took me to realize just how messed up this was. I fell down in a sub shop and hit the ground on some dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Or the middle of somewhere, I still have no idea where I was. I was just stunned, probably too stunned to think rationally. I walked down the path, not having a clue what else to do. I made it about six minutes or so before my head threw my mind into its version of a blender’s crushed ice setting. I again fell to the ground this time making contact with the cool un-mopped floor of the sub shops hallway. One of the workers came over and helped me up thinking I tripped. Back on my feet I headed into the men’s room where my stomach tried to empty out anything that could possibly been still in there.
That was it. I didn’t know what had happened and the only thing that kept me from thinking I lost my mind was the dusting of dirt that covered my hand, face and clothes. I called my office from the floor of the men’s room telling them I’d have to take half a sick day. Not shockingly they felt they would be able to keep going on without me for the rest of the day. All of those brave people, getting their own pens and paper clips from the supply shelves. What did they care really, I just worked in the mail room and I already handed out the paychecks. The walk home from the sub shop had too have been one of the longest walks I’d taken in years, and I had walked it weekly. Even with being preoccupied time passed so slowly. It didn’t help that I felt like I just ran a half marathon with keeping up with a Kenyan who kept punching me in the stomach every few minutes or so. I fell through the door to my apartment after the four hour long twenty-five minute walk. That day was a good floor day for me. I didn’t fight myself when I gave into my exhaustion and fell asleep. A half hour later I was fine. Rested, relaxed and questioning my sanity. I just sat leaning up against my couch looking at my dirt coated clothes holding onto the only evidence that what happened actually happened. I started feeling that now all too familiar dizzy sensation again but closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths calmed it. I showered and changed into my usual jeans and a hoodie. The feeling came back just as intense as in the sub shop but more bearable. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. I felt a sharp breeze flow around me and settle. My body felt exhausted again. When I opened my eyes I wasn’t looking out into my living room but into the vast emptiness of a barn. I doubled over from the dull pain in my stomach. I was trying to piece together where I was and what was going on. What ever happened earlier had happened again. This time I was afraid. That’s right notebook, I was afraid. I had no idea how I got to the place that I didn’t know where. I was in someone’s barn and it still qualified as breaking and entering. No matter the fact that I wanted to be there less than who ever owned the place wanted me there. The dull pain and disorientation lessened as I sat still watching the lines of sunlight pushing through the slatted walls move across the floor. I don’t know how much time had passed but the sensations came rushing back and I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor. What the fuck is happening. Oh I had some hay stuck to my sleeve so that’s two things in the Adam’s not crazy column. Yeah, a light dusting of dirt and hay. That’d convince anyone that I wasn’t losing my mind.
“Hey, so I’m getting teleported places randomly.”
“Teleportation doesn’t exist.”
“I have proof.”
“Unless it’s a small amount of dirt and hay I’m not listening.”
“Well, my friend it just so happens…”
Yeah that’s probably how that would go. Totally believable.
I almost miss when I thought I was just teleporting from place to place. I was going to be a secret agent for the government. Google corrected me that it was “clandestine operative” and that I was grossly under-qualified. Makes sense that they’d want you to have a college degree. What college teaches you to teleport? Probably the same one that teaches you how to diagnose the guy claiming he can go from one place to another in the blink of an eye as mentally unstable. Besides they’d probably want someone who can control where he goes. Unstable wouldn’t have been too far off at the time. After the first two times it stopped, for about a week. I had taken an extra sick day the day after my first trip in case it happened again I couldn’t deal with going through that in that closet they called a mailroom. Nothing happened though. I forgot how much I didn’t like game shows until that day, though it would be cool to be on one. Anyway, a week later at work it hit me again all at once, my mind was spinning faster than it had before. I got a dull pain in the pit on my stomach and lost awareness of any strength in my legs. I was falling again.
When I hit the ground soft earth replaced the expected worn flat carpet. Immediately trying to sit up I realized I was inches from a ledge that I tumbled over. Falling backwards a couple feet I settled on the bank of a stream. Laying there I collected myself and pretended to get my bearings. Sitting up I surveyed the area around me trying to call back anything I could from that one scout camping trip I went on. “If the sun is directly above me and the moss on the tree is away from me that means this direction is… ahead of me. I am a shitty scout.”
I stood up took off my button down shirt which had a smear of mud down the left sleeve and started walking. I’d like to think that I had a reason for why I took the direction I did but really I think it’s just because it was the one I was facing. For what it was worth the forested area I landed in was peaceful and calm. It would have been a great stroll if I had any idea where I was. It was cool but not breezy and the sound of the stream was soothing. (I really should get one of those white noise machines. Bethany will probably hate it but I guess that’s why god created headphones.)
I walked for about an hour before I heard voices. I couldn’t hear what was being said, it was washed out with plenty of other noise. I could hear cheers, metal on metal clanging, horses and other indistinguishable sounds. I walked through some shrubs and exited the tree line. There were rows and rows of various sized canvas tents each sporting a flag. Some flags were blue and white and a shape of a lion while others had red and yellow with the shape of a dragon. I wanted to throw up. Teleporting was one thing, one IMPOSSIBLE thing but this? It wasn’t possible. I was just in a mailroom sorting bills, catalogues, and invoices now I was where? When? Between the gaps of the tents something shiny caught my eye. “Oh shit, is that a guy walking in a suit of fucking armor?” I drop to my knees to avoid detection. I started hyperventilating. I grab a paper bag off the ground and breathe into it deeply. All I could feel was panic spread across every inch of me. I wanted to cry but couldn’t figure out how. I kept breathing into the bag when something partially under the corner of the tent caught my eye. Was it a small scroll? Was it a piece of parchment? I grabbed it and held in front of me: 13th Annual Renaissance Fair! April 13-15 2007. There was even a $1 off coupon for the beer tent. It was a fucking Ren-Fair. The paper bag should have been a giveaway. I don’t think I’ve been happier to laugh at my own stupidity. I got back on my feet, and headed in to the crowds of LARPers. I don’t know if they called themselves that yet but they were the same group of people dressed in period costumes taking themselves way too seriously. That was neither here nor there, I mean I did have a coupon for a dollar off beer. Walking past a loom demonstration and kids getting their pictures taken posed in the stocks a fairly busty maiden pointed me in the direction of Ye Olde Beer Tent. I handed over my seven dollars and coupon. The date caught my eye. I apologized to the guy working the tent for the expired coupon. He laughed “It’s still good, they’re good for the whole weekend.”
“Yeah, but it’s from a while ago. It says 2007.”
“I know, and like I said it’s still good all weekend.” His reassurance on the matter had the exact opposite affect he was going for. I looked around. Out of everyone here there wasn’t a single iPhone is sight. It was 2012, tons of people had iPhones. Did that girl just say she was going to put someone in her top 8 on MySpace? I looked back at the man who was now holding out a beer for me. “Sorry, I got too into the excitement of the fair. I spaced on the year.”
“Ha, yeah it’s still 2007. Enjoy your trip into the past. Who’s next?”
I down my beer and go off in search of my friend the paper bag. I wish I could be more eloquent when freaking out but “WHAT THE FUCK!” was really all I could think or say. It’s not long after that my head is spinning again. I stumbled between a couple of nearby tents and fall. This landing wasn’t as cushioned as my last one. For a quick second I see that I’m back in the mail room before my head catches the edge of the table and I black out.
I woke up to “What the hell Adam.” My supervisor Dennis is standing over me. I was still half under the table that my head struck, in my tee shirt hardly conscious. There was no way this was going to end well.
“Dennis, hey, I uhh, I fell.”
“You’ve been gone for two hours. You’re out of dress code, you’re sleeping on the job and is that beer on your breath?”
Oh fuck, that’s right. Why did I think beer was a good idea?
“Look I can explain.” I couldn’t.
“There is no explanation.” He was right “Adam, there is no way this can stand. Go home.”
“Sorry, I swear tomorrow…” I knew I was fired before he cut me off. Dennis was a good guy; if I saw what he did I’d have fired me too. He told me to keep his cell number and he’d help me get help when I was ready. I almost wish I were an alcoholic. I needed help… just not the kind that anyone else could give.
‘Hello, I’m Adam and I’m a time traveler.’
‘I’ve been present for 68 days now.’
‘I still don’t feel like I’m in control. But it’s like they say one day at a time.’
Maybe me and the monopoly man can start a support group.
I was too in shock to process everything that had happened. I went back five years in time and I got fired for it. Well, the beer was probably the kicker but the time travel was the overall problem. The next two months were a wreck. Without a job paying my rent proved to be a difficult. Looking for work wasn’t a joy either when you’re afraid you’ll pop out of existence and are more concerned with the question “When do you see yourself in five years?” as opposed to the traditional “where.” I moved back in to my parent’s house for a while. It was basically a palette cleanser for where I was in life. It was a good place to reset. At least it was after I bullshitted my way past explaining how I got fired from my crappy mail room job for drinking and passing out. I don’t think dad ever bought my excuses he just moved on. I did too.
Mom scoured the help wanted sections looking to find me a new job. There really isn’t much call for inexperienced high school graduates who’ve recently been asked to leave their employment.
I started going to Hodge’s, a bar that a friend of a friend’s family owned. It’s also been closed for the last two years and was located a state over. The disapproving looks from my mother told me that she really had no idea what “alcoholism” was even though her father could have written a book. It’s hard to argue when someone calls you an alcoholic though because you’re only one if you admit to it. If you’re not you can only say you’re not which is also what you’d say before you’d say that you were. Really though, two beers and wings from time to time isn’t that. I just needed to get that out there. Eventually she did hear that the Elementary school she sometimes subbed at was hiring for custodial. Why not? The trips/jumps/falls/leaps/whatevers were still coming but more manageable. I usually came back right about when I left. I still felt sick and weak every time but I was getting used to it. That had nothing to do with the job though. I applied and interviewed. The principal liked my mom so that went far and they appreciated the fact that I came up with something that sounded like the truth as to why I was dismissed from my last job. Just a whole lot of bad luck. With the guy spilling a beer on me while I was at lunch, then my having a seizure in the middle of changing my shirt. That could have happened. Turns out I actually liked the job well enough. It wasn’t glamorous but the pay was better than I had in the office, I got benefits and working nights freed up my days for sleeping. Once a week me and three other guys would play doubles basketball in the junior sized gym. I now know what it’s like to be in the NBA. My folks keep telling me that it’s a good in between job but it just felt like a good fit. I can wear my normal clothes, if I go somewhere then nobody really questions if I’m dirtier because it’s always seen as something that I was cleaning. Also it’s kind of awesome that I can sit in one of the class rooms, eat my dinner and pretend to be a giant.